Senior management of a leading Hong Kong university will have less say over the selection of its head under a bill moved by pro-establishment lawmakers which seeks to drastically reform the varsity’s governing body.
The proposal, introduced by three lawmakers currently sitting on the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) council, followed the reappointment of Rocky Tuan Sung-chi, who will stay on as president until 2026.
Approval of a new three-year term for Tuan in April drew criticism from the pro-establishment camp, with some complaining it amounted to rewarding him for his questionable performance during the 2019 social unrest, when he showed sympathy towards protesting students.
The bill, unveiled on Tuesday night, proposes to reduce the number of council members from 55 to 34, while drastically increasing the proportion of external members.
They also accused the university administration of “acting in its own way” on the reappointment of the president and criticised the handling of a new design of CUHK’s emblem, which they said had “deeply frustrated” stakeholders outside the varsity.
The council chairman, originally appointed by the chancellor – the city’s leader – based on the council’s nomination, would be picked by the chancellor directly.
The council’s vice-chairman would also be appointed by the chancellor, instead of being elected from among its members.
The private member’s bill will first be discussed at a meeting of the legislature’s education panel on Friday.
The university’s governing council in April resolved that Tuan would be reappointed for three years commencing January 1, 2024.
It was widely reported that three lawmakers on the council – including Cheung and Lau – had opposed the resolution. The third was Alice Mak Mei-kuen, who now serves as secretary for home and youth affairs
The university on Tuesday said it would set up a task force to further consult various stakeholders and submit the preliminary results to the council after it had a meeting on Monday to listen to the proposal.